First comes love, then marriage, then the baby carriage…? It’s not always the case in the modern world! These days, there’s nothing taboo about choosing to become a single mother on your own. Marriage is not the financial necessity it once was, women are so capable of earning a decent wage and proving to be strong and independent. Many women focus on building their career, travelling far and wide, postponing coupling up—and then, at a certain age, they decide to have kids. Why not? We have the means, the heart, and the will. Modern mothers prove that all you need for a family is love, commitment, patience and an overwhelming desire to help their children with all the obstacles they face on their journey.
I pursued a great career, travelled the world and I feel I really have lived a great life. I had several failed relationships, always hoping to find ‘the one’ to settle down with and have kids. I then found my now ex-husband. He definitely had wonderful traits on the surface and I thought I had finally found the man who would make my dreams come true. Oh, how wrong I was! Early into our marriage, the cracks started appearing, I was always walking on eggshells as his mood swings were enormous and life was far from easy. Things got much worse. After trying for a baby for over a year, I suggested we both get tested. The most unexpected results were returned – he had a zero sperm count. For any couple this news is completely devastating. We both felt our worlds had crumbled right beneath us. I was supportive and empathetic, and at the same time I was mourning the loss of a possibility to have a child. My dream of having a family had been ripped away from me in a heartbeat.
After trying to work through this awful news for a long time, we both decided to move forward and find a donor. As we embarked on this journey it felt like stepping into the unknown. It filled my soul with equal parts nervousness and excitement. Looking back, I wasn’t completely sure he was on-board with this. I recall thinking very early on how much I wanted this baby and how I would do whatever it took to make it happen.
To start with, I visited an IVF clinic (Genea Australia) and they were truly fantastic! I had tests and talked about options. My timing was perfect as Genea had just started a new relationship with a couple of sperm banks in the states and I was one of the first people to take advantage of this new offering. (I will discuss the choosing a donor in a separate blog). Australian law restricts you to ‘known donors’ which actually I embraced. To know my child will have access to their biological father’s details one day filled me with an enormous sense of relief. What was vital for me was to find someone who I felt had the same values and resonated with me. Intuition is one of the most powerful gifts we have, I use it daily and I let it lead me through these decisions. If something doesn’t feel right, it often isn’t right but when I found this donor, my stomach felt like a washing machine spinning – pure excitement. I knew he was the one.
It didn’t take long for me to receive the amazing news – you have a donor! The feeling of receiving that news is so hard to describe but imagine being told your lifelong dream is now going to be achievable. I was dancing on pure sunshine, I had light beaming from me and nothing could stop me moving forward.
The next step was embarking on three rounds of IVF before resulting in a successful pregnancy. As the third attempt came close, I knew that moving forward alone with this pregnancy was blaringly obvious. My husband was disengaged, he was suffering from mental health issues and I knew I had given everything trying to make our marriage work, to be a supportive wife, but the reality was I learnt a really hard lesson. You cannot help someone who will not help themselves. I wanted this baby more than anything in the world. I was faced with the decision: To move forward with IVF or consider separating from my husband and forgoing everything I had been through to get to the point of being so close to fulfilling my dream. I knew that going it alone would have consequences later down the track. But I could only focus on the most important point, I had endured so much to get to this point and nothing was going to stop me until I had a successful pregnancy.
The heartache and pain of each failed attempt was so worth it. I’m not one for giving up lightly. When I get knocked down, I dust myself off and get back up and go again. Receiving the call to say I’m PREGNANT was one of the best moments of my life. I yelled so loudly the whole neighbourhood would have heard me. I was dancing around singing “I’m pregnant, I’m pregnant, I’m pregnant” saying it enough times to believe it. I fell in love that very moment forever. The love that you can’t bear to be without. I’m so grateful for the amazing man who enabled this miracle of life to happen.
As I predicted, life with my husband deteriorated hugely. Sadly, I was on the receiving end of domestic violence early in my pregnancy, so I left shortly after. The overwhelming sense of wanting and needing desperately to protect my unborn baby that I had longed for forever was immense.
I’m now blessed with the most handsome and beautiful boy – Maximilian. Appropriately named meaning ‘The Greatest’. His birth is ingrained in my brain, it really was the most amazing experience and the best day of my life. His arrival into the world was early born at 32.5 weeks old and weighed 1.67kg. He was so tiny but so perfect. He spent 4 weeks in the NICU, predominantly to gain weight. My little man just couldn’t wait to meet me and vice versa. I’m a huge believer in fate and I see his early arrival as an absolute blessing. Yes, it was scary and bloody difficult leaving hospital without my baby. But I was surrounded by amazing paediatricians, equally amazing nurses and had so much guidance and support. Most mothers are thrown into the deep end after a few days, into the unknown. Constantly second guessing ‘Am I doing it right?’, ‘Is my baby still alive?’, ‘Am I feeding right…’ The list is endless. On the other hand, I had a constant stream of paediatric specialists to ask questions, learn from and become a mother of a newborn with their guidance. When I left with my precious boy, I had all the tools I needed to rock this new amazing job of motherhood.
My journey certainly didn’t start out with the intent of being a SMBC, although in hindsight I absolutely should have done that years ago! However, my story is uniquely different. I have experienced what it is like from both sides of the fence being a single mother by choice and by chance. I see my journey as a mixture of both. I certainly was driving the need for a family and was responsible for choosing a donor, plus I endured all the IVF and disappointments that go with it. I am a single mother by choice because I chose to walk away from an awful relationship and by chance because I had no choice but to walk away. At the back of my mind doubt crept in. I kept asking myself: Would a child miss not having a father in their life? Does being raised in a single parent family disadvantage them? All of which I deeply considered. But I’m living proof that being raised by one parent didn’t affect me negatively at all. In fact, I believe it helped mould me into the person I am today. It gave me strength, provided me with a coat of armour to be more bullet proof and gave me courage to be bold and challenge adversity.
Single parenting is bloody tough at times. But the rewards are abundantly clear, you get to parent the way YOU want. I see some happily married couples constantly arguing about what’s right, they bicker at each other and I stand smiling thinking how bloody lucky am I! I have no regrets. I’m glad I pursued a great career and had lots of fun doing it. I’m glad I travelled and dated in my 20s and early 30s. And I’m glad I live in a time when becoming an SMBC is not only possible, but relatively easy. I’ve been blessed by decent fertility, a stable income, and supportive family and friends. I am so grateful we live in a day and age that recognises all the amazing ways that families are made—and that is so beautiful to me.